The Greenlanders

The Greenlanders Jane Smiley the Pultizer Prize winning author of A Thousand Acres gives us a magnificent novel of fourteenth century Greenland Rich with fascinating detail about the day to day joys and innumerable

  • Title: The Greenlanders
  • Author: Jane Smiley
  • ISBN: 9780394551203
  • Page: 490
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Jane Smiley, the Pultizer Prize winning author of A Thousand Acres, gives us a magnificent novel of fourteenth century Greenland Rich with fascinating detail about the day to day joys and innumerable hardships of remarkable people, The Greenlanders is also the compelling story of one family proud landowner Asgeir Gunnarsson his daughter Margret, whose willful independenJane Smiley, the Pultizer Prize winning author of A Thousand Acres, gives us a magnificent novel of fourteenth century Greenland Rich with fascinating detail about the day to day joys and innumerable hardships of remarkable people, The Greenlanders is also the compelling story of one family proud landowner Asgeir Gunnarsson his daughter Margret, whose willful independence leads her into passionate adultery and exile and his son Gunnar, whose quest for knowledge is at the compelling center of this unforgettable book Echoing the simple power of the old Norse sagas, here is a novel that brings a remote civilization to life and shows how it was very like our own.

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      Published :2018-08-11T08:02:58+00:00

    One thought on “The Greenlanders”

    1. You don't just read this book. You LIVE it. Who would have thought that the lives of Scandinavian settlers in medieval Greenland could be so fascinating. Life was so hard and brutal. Both the culture and the climate were totally unforgiving. But it's fascinating to see how our forebearers lived, and how much of stoic Scandinavian culture remains in families of that heritage today.The author, Jane Smiley, is an author of stunning brilliance. She carries you to another time and place, such that yo [...]

    2. I recommend this book to those of you seeking immersion into the world of medieval Greenland. The characters are the Nordic immigrants who settled in Greenland, the events taking place in the 1300s, centuries after Viking exploration. These people must cope with cold and a native population that is so strange that these creatures are seen as demons. These people, the indigenous Inuits, are called skraelings. It is a world of hunger and hard times, adultery and murder, illness and death and lawle [...]

    3. What makes this book unique is also what makes it unapproachable: Namely, it was written in the style of a Scandinavian epic, which is a departure from the narrative graces we're used to. At first, this causes it to seem anecdotal and choppy, and I had a hard time getting into it. After I became immersed in the characters and their lives, however, it quickly gathered momentum and drew me in. Though it follows a large cast of characters, I did not find myself yearning for more attention to some a [...]

    4. Note: this is a personal and somewhat rambling review.The Greenlanders was one of the great reading experiences of my adult life, and I have to confess that "great" reading experiences have become few and far between the older and more jaded I get. I had heard of the book for several years prior, and I knew that at some point, the time would ripe. I find that certain books reward a structured, self conscious approach to being read, The Greenlanders being a case in point. I am not sure why, it ce [...]

    5. This books begins with a strong premise, and interesting humanity-versus-nature story chronicling the decline of a settlement in Greenland, circa fifteenth-sixteenth century.It would seem that whomever is responsible for editing this book needs to review basic paragraph structure and narrative flow. Jane Smiley patches snippets of dialogue and multi-year story events together between characters that may only appear once or twice.The character relationships are especially murky, due to the Norweg [...]

    6. History has been something of a passion for me since I was very young and first read about the tombs of the Egyptian Pharaohs, the ancient temples and cities of the Aztec and the Khmer buried under jungle vines, and the crumbled ziggurats of Sumer. As I grew up I fell deep into the larger stories and overarching, serpentine narrative we call history, but always I was most attracted to the doomed and lost civilizations, the dwindling and disappearance of Norse Greenland being among them.Historica [...]

    7. I really don't even remember when I read this book that said, it was one of the most beautiful books I've read. Jane Smiley is an expert in Icelandic literature and sagas, which I know she once taught at University of Iowa (she may still). She chooses to use the prose style of these epic sagas to write her own saga of 14th c Vikings attempting to colonize Greenland. This makes it a bit difficult to get into right at first, but just like with any writing style, you quickly adjust. Just give it so [...]

    8. Although I struggled to stick with this book in the first 100+ pages, but I had read really good reviews on it so I stuck with it. Soon I was hooked and I am glad I did. The most interesting aspect of this story was the influence the Greenland's relative isolation had on their morals and religious beliefs. The oral preservation of laws that tried to maintain their original ties to other norther countries maintained some continuity until lawspeaker Bjorn failed to pass them on and even failed. As [...]

    9. I loved this book so much! As with all books I really love, I can't say exactly why it was so absorbing. A lot happens, but not in a page-turning way, it's not funny at all, and while you do come to know and care about the characters, they are held at a certain remove from the reader. But it's nearly 600 pages of awesomeness about a lost society I'd never had any interest in before, and I loved every word of it. It's about endurance and survival in a hostile landscape, in which human emotions - [...]

    10. This is very different from the other Jane Smiley books I've read. I'm knocked out that she can write in such different styles, and I loved this book.Norse people settled on Greenland for about four hundred years, until the Little Ice Age made it impossible for them to survive there in about 1400. I was surprised when, about a hundred pages in, I found myself getting completely absorbed in this book and its world. It's told in what can seem like a kind of flat style, maybe like Saga stories from [...]

    11. What a truly amazing book. Written in a style reminiscent of the Norse sagas, beautifully detailed and epic in scale, this is the only book I've ever found that captures what it must have been like to live in one of the farflung Viking colonies of the Middle Ages. Greenland is a terribly inhospitable place, but I had no idea how inhospitable before I read this. They were completely unable to cultivate any fruits or vegetables or wheat. Their diet consisted of meat, from both wild and domesticate [...]

    12. I loved this book--really, really loved it, didn't want it to end. Since I can't abide Jane Smiley's other books* I couldn't figure how I would so love one but so hate the others. I was literally afraid to read it again, fearing that I might notice on the second reading loathesome qualities I'd missed the first time around, that I'd read shallowly and under the influence of my love for Sigrid Undsett's Kristen Lavransdatter, which I also loved. But after years and years of this wondering and wor [...]

    13. My favorite books are the books that I read at the right time. Do those things happen or do we make them happen in our minds? Bitin off more than I can chew about this and that and Beowulf and Salomé and then someone inserts Icelandic sagas and Christian influences–thanks for trying to make some sense of what I'm attempting to say–and then I go off talking about that and then someone says no, Catholic influences and Tolkein and the Apocrypha and hey, are you going to Easter Mass? Well–the [...]

    14. I really wanted to like this book, to continue my months long delve into medieval historical fiction. I read about fifty pages in and could not take it any more. This book is very dry. It reads like an account from a very boring town gossip (this person was the son of this person, went to this persons farm, did this, the other person said this, years later this happened, blah blah blah). Fifty pages in and one of the "major" characters (according to the back of the book) dies, and I couldn't car [...]

    15. Can't help wondering whether those giving high ratings are simply scared to undermine all the massive amounts of research that must have gone into this. I can totally imagine it being some people's thing, of course, but it's just so slow. Not a shred of gratification anywhere. From a writer's perspective it's a commendable feat, but it's not readable. It does have bursts of humour in places where you'd least expect it:'When she passed a birch tree, she said, "Little birch tree, little birch tree [...]

    16. You think you got problems? Try living in Norse Greenland in the Little Ice Age. If you don't kill enough seals at the autumn hunt, you and your family might starve over the winter. That is if you don't die of the "vomiting ill" or get axe-murdered by a neighbor over some stupid feud. Geez.This prodigious novel reads sometimes like a fantasy, the culture and everyday lives of the people being so strange. And at times like a "lost colony" SF novel, the community so isolated that a ship from Europ [...]

    17. For a modern book, this struck me as a lot like the old icelandic/greenlandic stories that I've read. Of course, that is both good and bad as far as my personal tastes go. I cannot fault the characterization, depth of detail, or scope. However, it just goes on and on and on and on and on. You sometimes see entire lives in a couple of pages, but that's only a tiny portion. It is extremely dense, but I have to wonder if some of that could have been cut. It makes it seem more like the old Norse tal [...]

    18. I really really wanted to read this book - I generally like Jane Smiley's work, and its historical fiction! About Northern Europe no less! But in the end it was justponderous and dull. And frankly, I couldn't care less about any of the characters - not the unfaithful wife, the family she left behind, the crazy priestt anyone. They were just all so dull. Even as Smiley so painstakingly - in so much detail - talked about the harshness of their life and their winters I still didn't care. (and she n [...]

    19. This may be my new favorite novel. It was hard going at first, but Smiley's strange, impersonal way of telling the story really got under my skin. I read it six months ago and it still comes to mind constantly. What did I like about it? The pared-down world of the Greenlanders, the subtly wrought characters, specific, gorgeous detail, and the emotion, which was somehow both stifled and explosive. There is something incredibly moving about their painful struggle to survive and their ultimate fail [...]

    20. The Greenlanders is an exceptionally well-written bit of historical fiction, detailing the little-known history of the Norse settlement in Greenland from the mid-14th to early-15th century. While the story focuses primarily on one family, there is no real protagonist, and the narrative slips in and out of the lives of many members of the small community. Smiley (no relation of mine, sadly!) consciously adopts the style of an oral epic, paying attention to the rhythm of the prose and repeating ce [...]

    21. This is a convincing and masterly fictional account about eking out a life on mediaeval Greenland. If you prefer non-fiction then Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed is your best source.As with Sigrid Undset's 'Kristin Lavransdatter' trilogy, 'Greenlanders' is written in oral-epic-saga mode so it didn't surprise me at all to find a character called Birgitter Lavransdottir (hattip?). Now for the *gasp* statement - I am already (100 pages in) enjoying this more than the eternal hanky [...]

    22. A fun, breezy summer read!. . . this is NOT. The Greenlanders is a multi-generational epic told in the Norse style of the old sagas. Read the first few chapters of the Bible if you want to get a feel for Smiley's language. There is murder on the third page of this 584 page tome--told as casually as if a character in a modern story decided to take a drive to the grocery store. That's the first of many, many deaths that befall the Greenlanders: of starvation, exposure, childbirth, etc. The Greenla [...]

    23. How many chances am I going to give Jane Smiley?I had to drag myself through this 700 page epic about 14th century Norse people in Greenland. The first few hundred pages were utterly confusing - with dozens of significant and insignificant characters (and no way to distinguish the two) with similar names. If I had only kept a cheat sheet, I'd have done a lot better.There were moments in this rambling book that were really interesting. The story spans generations of an unlucky family and the core [...]

    24. The Greenlanders started off a bit slowly and I was having trouble keeping track of who everyone was, and then somewhere around page 75 or so, everything clicked into place and I decided that I loved this novel about the doomed Viking settlement in Greenland. Smiley's prose is so spare and elegant and matter-of-fact that you don't really notice until it's too late that you've come to care deeply for her characters. By the time Kollgrim Gunnarsson meets his ghastly fate, I was simultaneously dyin [...]

    25. I read this in 2001 by stealing it from my then-roommate when she wasn't reading it. I don't know why, but I've been thinking about this book a lot. Even though it is long and I have so many other books I want to read, I am feeling compelled to go out and get a copy and read this wonderful book again. I remember that it was completely engrossing and surprising how major plot twists that would normally come at the end of a book would crop up abruptly and surprisingly everywhere. I felt immersed i [...]

    26. I ploughed through this epic family saga with something akin to the force with which the Greenlanders forge through snow in hunt of a she bear - testamony to Smiley's skill as an enthralling and compelling story teller. All immersing, I lived every pastoral upheaval, shivered every winter famine and rejoiced at every successful birth with the captivating characters. Raw and brutal, a true tale of human resilience and not for the faint hearted. The Greenlanders is an exceptionally rewarding and t [...]

    27. I forced myself to plug away at the Norse-epic-style prose (in which paragraphs may be pages long, and dialogue appears only sparsely) by telling myself, hey, it's a deliberate stylistic choice! She's being true to her genre! But in the end, it was a plodding, boring story about only vaguely interesting characters who had the bad habit of randomly dying or being killed just as I started to get interested in them.

    28. Tedious.Every winter these people wall their animals in and pretty much themselves also and almost starve to death, every year and then some stuff happens and some other stuff happens, most of which is umimportant and goes nowhere and then they wall up their animals and themselves and almost starve to death again and year after tedious year this is the plot.Dull.Boring.(Likely well-researched and the writing is well-done, but still it is dreadfully boring)

    29. This may be a weird favorite thing to have to say about a book, but it is what I find myself telling people who ask about it. When the heretofore main characters die, their deaths hardly cause ripples in the story. It’s basically, “dude falls into the fjord, and after his corpus is found, it’s placed in the snow pack to be buried in the spring. Next paragraph. Moving right along”. The implication being, the characters have way bigger things to worry about than mere loss of life of one ch [...]

    30. Jane Smiley is a depressing writer. The amazing thing about Greenlanders is her art of the horrible fits perfectly with Greenland in the 13th century, the time when much of Europe endured several onsloughtss of the plague and the Catholic church had two popes. Even before one begins reading this book, one knows that the Europeans started inhabiting Greenland in the time of Eric the Red. It is said the beginning of the second milennium was a warm time in Greenland. But temperatures dropped and th [...]

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